Conflict & Justice

Al Qaeda says it has a US hostage


Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, seen in video footage filmed in Afghanistan by Al Jazeera in October 2001.

Warren Weinstein, a 70-year-old American kidnapped in Pakistan almost four months ago, is an Al Qaeda hostage, the group’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, said in a video message released on jihadi websites today.

It’s the first official claim of responsibility for the abduction from any group, ABC News reported.

"I tell the captive soldiers of Al Qaeda and the Taliban and our female prisoners held in the prisons of the crusaders and their collaborators, we have not forgotten you and, in order to free you, we have taken hostage the Jewish American Warren Weinstein," al-Zawahiri said, according to ABC News. For the rest of the 30-minute video, al-Zawahiri mostly discussed Egypt, ABC News reported.

Armed men snatched the Urdu-speaking Weinstein from his house in Lahore on Aug. 13, just days before he was due to move back to the United States, the Christian Science Monitor reported.

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According to CBS News:

He was the country director in Pakistan for J.E. Austin Associates, a U.S.-based firm that advises a range of Pakistani business and government sectors. The company has said Weinstein is in poor health and provided a detailed list of medications, many of them for heart problems, that it implored the kidnappers to give him.

In his message today, al-Zawahri said that Weinstein would be released if the United States stopped airstrikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, CBS News reported.